When I used to be a freshman (2018), especially my first semester, I can recall numerous frustrations and back-and-forth emails and appointments with my academic advisors regarding my degree plan. I was overwhelmed, confused, and also sympathized with the advisors having to explain the same degree plan with 100's of students.

I had a vision in my Sophomore year (2019) to build a very easy to use degree planning tool that can help ease people's mind's and make sure every student has a solid graduation plan. No one would have to graduate a semester later because of poor planning.

I didn't think it was much of a problem so didn't dedicate time to the development of it. However, recently I met up with a couple academic advisors and they proved me otherwise. It is a very big problem a lot of students in universities face, and even a tiny little application like mine that can help at least a handful of students get a better picture of their college career is worth taking the effort from my part.

What it does is a web application where students can log into and view all their different degree plans they have been looking at, customize their workload for the semester with a very intuitive drag and drop design, and validate their plans by making sure there are no pre-requisite conflicts.

How we built it is built using a Javascript React front-end utilizing the Semantic-UI library for modern UI components, a Python Flask back-end, with a MongoDB cluster as the database. The user data is taken very seriously and has been implemented in a way that is very secure by using Auth0 authentication workflow. Had to use Selenium in Python to scrape and process data for further usage.

Challenges we ran into

I worked on this project alone. That was my biggest challenge. I wanted to implement so many features like: Tracking graduation goals, exporting degree plans to pdf (printing), sharing schedules with friends, quick academic advisor lookup, etc, but I was unable to due to the time constraints. Nevertheless, I believe I have done a significantly good job in building this project as it does what it promises: lets you visualize your degree plan conveniently.

Other than that, I faced a couple issues working with course data as there was no official place for me to get it and had to rely on some of my custom made tools to scrape UT Dallas websites to retrieve data, and also the nebula api provided at the hackathon.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Being an exclusive back-end engineer, I had a very hard time making the front-end of the application modern and neat (centering a <div> 😭). The final product turned out pretty decent and I am very proud of that. It is intuitive and simple, just like I envisioned.

What's next for

I can promise you, this is not the end of The scope of this project is much bigger than just a hackathon and it will be something that will make students lives beyond UT Dallas easier.

There are a lot more features planned and will be rolled out later on, some of them include (from earlier):

  • Graduation tracker
  • Export degree plans to PDF (make it printable for convenience)
  • Integrate easy access to class data like grade distributions, professor reviews, and general class difficulty
  • Auto recommend electives to take
  • Create semester course schedules and automatically detect classes with your friends
  • Double major and minor support
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